Robert Spitzer apologizes to the gay community for his ex-gay study

Truth Wins Out is reporting the text of an apology delivered to Ken Zucker, editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior:

Several months ago I told you that because of my revised view of my 2001 study of reparative therapy changing sexual orientation, I was considering writing something that would acknowledge that I now judged the major critiques of the study as largely correct. After discussing my revised view of the study with Gabriel Arana, a reporter for American Prospect, and with Malcolm Ritter, an Associated Press science writer, I decided that I had to make public my current thinking about the study. Here it is.

Basic Research Question. From the beginning it was: “can some version of reparative therapy enable individuals to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual?” Realizing that the study design made it impossible to answer this question, I suggested that the study could be viewed as answering the question, “how do individuals undergoing reparative therapy describe changes in sexual orientation?” – a not very interesting question.

The Fatal Flaw in the Study – There was no way to judge the credibility of subject reports of change in sexual orientation. I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject’s reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid.

I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.

Robert Spitzer. M.D.

Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry,

Columbia University

This statement follows up an earlier statement to Gabriel Arana and a brief follow up to me two weeks ago.

In response to Bob’s statement, I have delisted my complete interview with him on YouTube. I am considering adding this statement to it and leaving it up as a way for viewers to see the development of his thinking. What I don’t want to do is leave it up without comment. Another option is simply to remove it. While I am deciding what to do, I would like to hear opinions from readers on this one.

 

  • StraightGrandmother

    Perhaps a link to your YouTube video would be helpful here. Hard to comment since I have never seen it.

    Also did I miss it on your website, the California proposed law that would ban sexual orientation change therapy to persons under age 18 and for those over age 18 the explicit disclaimer. Box Turtle Bulletin has a big article on it.

  • ken

    As far as the video goes, I think it should be left up.. Perhaps you could pre-pend it with a disclaimer or links to Spitzer’s later statements.

    “I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. ”

    I need to re-read Spitzer’s study but I don’t recall him making this claim (at least not in the published report). I remember a lot of others saying he claimed this, but I don’t think it is in the study. As I recall he basically said change *MAY* be possible, more study is needed. And he says that in the video as well.

  • http://Www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    I think reposting them with a title screen putting them in context would be one way to go. As one who has been doing a lot of historic research from the past two centuries, I would really hate to see them become unavailable, as they represent an important stage in his thinking. From a clinical/research perspective i understand they are problematic, but from a historic perspective, they remain valuable documents.

  • Patrocles

    I understand why he apologizes to the gay persons who under influence of his book tried reparative therapy.

    I don’t understand why he apologizes to the “gay community”. Of course,some gay activists have called Spitzer’s book “infamous” – so, does he actually imply that he has “defamed” the community, and that he oughtn’t to do that? And does he think that such a point of view is as important in science as truth or verisimilarity?

  • Karen

    I also left this comment on another blog and thought I would re=post here. As for the video you mention, I am not sure what you are referring to but I would like to see it.

    It seems like the main concern is that the study was misused as opposed to flawed necessarily. As he admits, the research question was: “how do individuals undergoing reparative therapy describe changes in sexual orientation?”

    The research question was never about proving that change occurred in the first place. He recognized that the study could not accomplish that so he changed it to simply a study of how individuals *describe* their experience.

    What is odd is that even though he just admitted to changing the study question in realization that he could not prove anything, he then ends his statement contradictorily by saying: “I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy.”

    Except that his study didn’t claim to prove anything in the first place.

    That is why I believe the journal that originally published the study did not do a retraction. Because the study does not meet the criteria for an official retraction.

    The real issue is not so much the study claims itself–which only claimed to report self-description– but rather how conservatives misappropriated the findings to argue for proof. But then conservatives do this with many other studies as well.

    So, I think the concerns are legitimate–the study has in fact been used by others to argue for proof of change. But that is not the fault of the study itself which never made such claims of proof in the first place.

  • Karen

    PS–I think the video should stay up. And in the video is he making any claims for anything or is sticking with his study question which is self-description? If so, then what’s the big deal? If the problem is misappropriation then that should be dealt with in the same way as other scientist who have their research misappropriated. More clearly explain what the study does and does not do.

    I wish he had been more thoughtful about his retraction focusing not on flaws in the study itself, but with his concern that it would be (and has been misappropriated). The whole attempt at retraction is misleading and doesn’t even meet the criteria for a true retraction.

  • grantdale

    Warren,

    We both think it is important that this history be retained, and also that this history not only be presented in the context that it occurred but also in the context that further understanding has now bought Spitzer to his recent annoucement. Present everything as a whole, and in its entirety.

    The ‘community’ that Spitzer refers to is long used to being misquoted, misreprested, misinterpreted and misunderstood. This latest episode will also be equally misquoted, misreprested, misinterpreted and misunderstood — as you can only assume — but the humble retraction deserves to stand; and the reasons and the history deserves to to be placed together and left unvanished.

    Professionals don’t erase errors, they append a correction. That was an unwritten rule pounded into me as an undergraduate, and I still think it a good one to live by; despite the discomfort at times.

  • http://nojam75.blogspot.com Norm!

    Will you also addend the I Do Exist FAQ and your interview (PDF) to include Dr. Spitzer’s apology?

    Also, I have to ask, have you considered issuing any similar apology or retraction of I Do Exist? I’ve read your producer’s note and appreciate your willingness to critique your documentary. However, do you have any regrets if I Do Exist led someone into reparative or other kind of change program?

  • Michael Bussee

    I have not seen the Youtube video, but I am inclined to agree with Ken:

    “Pre-pend it with a disclaimer or links to Spitzer’s later statements.”

  • William

    Karen, it doesn’t really make much sense to speak of retracting an actual study, unless you are doing so on the grounds that it was based on fraudulent or erroneous data. But you can announce that you have decided that the study was methodologically unsound, and that you now therefore reject the conclusions to which you previously came on the basis of it. That is clearly what Spitzer wants to do. He claimed, at the time that his study was published, that:

    “Some people appear able to change only sexual orientation self-identity. Others appear also able to change overt sexual behavior. This study provides evidence that some gay men and lesbians are able to also change the core features of sexual orientation.”

    Those are the last three sentences of his study. By “evidence” he presumably meant strong or at least credible evidence; otherwise there would have been no point in his publishing it at all. He now no longer believes that claim and so he wishes publically to retract it. That is a perfectly reasonable thing for him to do.

  • Danny

    Good job on modifying the site. The blog looks 1000% better. I can actually read the text.

    I’d need to see the video to offer a useful comment as to whether to keep it up. Without even seeing it, I can certainly say it should not be kept up without changing the description to update the viewer.

    Will anyone ever do a serious investigation into this tiny cohort of highly motivated men who claim to have become “ex gay”? There needs to be a study that employs tumescence measurement and multiple in-depth, in-person interviews with the subjects, their partners, etc. And this should take place over time, while therapy is in process, so as to measure actual change in real time, not self-reported change years after the fact. Amazing that no one will do this.

  • Karen

    William–you are right. I was under the impression that his research question was about description, but it seems clear that he drew conclusions asserting evidence for change. Which I suppose could still be true. But we just have no way of knowing.

  • DAVE G

    This apology is a first step toward acknowledging that behavioral addiction requires a 12-step-type program that admits change is controllable, never fully accomplished.

  • William

    I’m sorry, DAVE G, I fail to see the relevance of your statement. What is under discussion here is sexual orientation, not behavioural addiction. Did you post your comment on the wrong blog by mistake? Never mind; it’s easily done; I once did it myself.

  • Richard Willmer

    I think it is always instructive, and often encouraging, to see the development in a person’s thinking, so do find a way to do this, Warren.

    We are all on a journey (well, at least, all us of who are trying to function as healthy human persons).

  • http://lgbttraining.blogspot.com.au/ Anthony Venn-Brown

    Maybe leave the video up but add captions/commnets …….annotations I believe they are called as the video plays.

  • Michael Bussee

    As I follow this story, it seems the question on everyone’s mind is this: “Why didn’t Dr. Spitzer discover the “fatal flaw” in his research until now?

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    I eagerly await his re-visiting of his views on Trans and Intersex people.

    But I’m not holding my breath.

  • Teresa

    “Some people appear able to change only sexual orientation self-identity. Others appear also able to change overt sexual behavior. This study provides evidence that some gay men and lesbians are able to also change the core features of sexual orientation.”

    I need some help understanding all this.

    First, Dr. Spitzer releases a study that was peer-reviewed. Is that correct?

    Second, the study is clearly represented as methodologically one of ‘self-reporting’ of homosexuals that are/have been involved in SOCE therapy. Is that correct?

    Third, some homosexuals in Dr. Spitzer’s study, self-reported ‘some’ sexual attraction to the opposite gender. Correct?

    If 1, 2 and 3 above are correct, I see nothing in Dr. Spitzer’s retraction apology that reveals a ‘fatal flaw’ to arriving at the study’s final results. The ‘evidence’ was the ‘self-reporting’ of homosexuals.

    Dr. Spitzer:

    “The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.”

    Well, that’s exactly what the whole ‘study’ methodology was: self-reporting. That was the study’s original evidence, plain and simple. Where’s the new ‘evidence’ that undoes this ‘self-reporting’? Has he found those that ‘self-reported’ (some) sexual attraction to the opposite gender retracting their original statements?

    Dr. Spitzer was well into his 60′s when his study was released. He was not a grad student. He well knew research protocols, and all that craft involves. I see nothing from this retraction/apology that undermines the results of his original study. Self-reporting is just that: self-reporting. You get what you get.

  • Michael Bussee

    I noticed this comment on Mark Yarhouse’s blog:

    “Spitzer may be interpreting his data in much the same way he did originally–as when he first presented his findings at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in 2001: as evidence that the people he interviewed believed they had experienced change of orientation.)”

    But that’s the trouble, isn’t it? People BELIEVE all sorts of things. But believing something doesn’t make it so. Yes, it may be interesting that they “believe” it, but anti-gay groups have used Spitzer’s study (just as they are using Yarhouse’s) as “proof” that gays can actually become heterosexual — not just that some “believe” they can.

    http://psychologyandchristianity.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/on-spitzers-change/

  • StraightGrandmother

    Wait long enough and eventually Teresa will show up (smile)

    Teresa you sound remarkably like Mark Yarhouse

    http://psychologyandchristianity.wordpress.com/

  • William

    Teresa, obviously I can’t speak for Spitzer, but it is clear that he is no longer convinced that the self-reporting was necessarily truthful. Several of his critics raised this point at the time, and it could be – although this is, of course, only speculation – that any doubts that he had on this point have been reinforced by considering the number of ex-gay leaders who once insisted for years or even decades (e.g. John Smid) that their sexual orientation had changed, and that the same was the case with countless clients of their ministries, but who have eventually conceded that the whole thing was simply self-deception.

    As Michael Bussee said of a much smaller study of this kind in which he and a number of his clients took part years ago when he was still at the head of Exodus International: “When Pattison contacted us about putting together the study, Gary and I were very excited. We went through our files and carefully handpickced and coached the research subjects. … We told the research subjects how important it was to EXODUS’s ministry and future that the subjects give the most positive response possible. We weren’t lying – at least we didn’t think we were. We believed it. … Sadly, we were deluding ourselves and misleading others.”

    43% of Spitzer’s subjects learned about the study from ex-gay ministries, and 23% from NARTH. They decided to participate in the study after reading repeated notices that those organizations had sent to their members.

    Since Spitzer is an atheist, I don’t suppose that he could adequately appreciate or even perhaps conceive the extent to which people who had been psychologically and spiritually terrorized by fundamentalist religious teaching on homosexuality (93% of the subjects said that religion was extremely important in their lives) could be led to deceive themselves and others. Could it be that the penny finally dropped?

  • writerjerome

    Even bigger than John Smid admitting his sexual orientation had not changed was the statement from Alan Chambers that “99.9% of gays can’t change” their sexual orientation. As current president of Exodus International, his admission as top dog in the “ex-gay” community may have made Spitzer feel like his own suspicions were more than confirmed by the very men who had once boldly proclaimed that thousands had changed. And given the near-silence coming from Exodus board members, it seems time has come to admit the fact that sexual orientation claims do not match reality.

  • Michael Bussee

    Anyone studying “ex-gays” has to take into account the mindset of many of the participants. The impact of “name-it-and-claim-it” theology on self reports of “change” cannot be under-estimated.

    It’s not so much that “ex-gays” deliberately lie. It’s more that they have a special way of looking at “belief”. Those from more charismatic backgrounds are told that “what they profess in faith” will come to pass – if their faith is strong enough.

    For example, such a believer may say, “I have been healed by Jesus” of this or that affliction – even though they still suffer from it. By proclaiming it on a spritual level they help to bring it about on the physical level.

    This idea of “claiming it on faith” is reinforced by such Biblical passages as “By His stripes we ARE healed” (past tense) and “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you HAVE received it, and it will be yours.”

    When these believers say, “My sexual orientation HAS changed”, they may actually mean something closer to: “I strongly believe that my orientation has changed on the spiritual level and I am professing faith (confident hope) that it will also be true on the physical level.”

    That’s what I meant when I said I was “ex-gay”. It was what John Smid meant. It’s what many of the men in our ministries meant. But these were self-reports of our hope – not a factual reality – believing (in faith) that what had changed on the spiritual level would manifest itself on the physical

  • Michael Bussee

    This “ex-gay” way of thinking is part of what is known as the “Word Of Faith” movement:

    “Word of Faith (also known as Word-Faith or simply Faith) is a family of teachings in some Christian churches as well as a label applied by some observers to a teaching movement kindred to many Pentecostal and charismatic churches and individuals worldwide…

    The Word of Faith movement has many distinctive features. It shares teachings with prosperity theology, but they are not the same thing.

    Additionally, many beliefs that the movement holds as essentials are often criticised by some Christians as diverging from Christian orthodoxy.

    The movement emphasizes speaking, stating, or confessing verses found in the Bible, called the Word of God. The belief is that if one believes the Word of God and confesses it then the believer shall receive what they confess.

    This act of believing and speaking is said to be described by Jesus in Mark 11:22-23. The term word of faith itself is derived from the biblical passage Romans 10:8 which speaks of “the word of faith that we preach.” ~ wikipedia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_of_Faith

  • Teresa

    Hi StraightGrandmother, yes, I’m here. Dr. Yarhouse, thanks for the association. Now to business.

    Quite frankly, I’m deeply concerned by this retraction/apology by Dr. Spitzer. I will attribute the best motives I can for this forthcoming now; however, I have several problems with this.

    First, regardless, of why ‘self-reporting’ homosexuals say what they say is quite immaterial to this study. That was the methodology of the study; and, as I said before, the answers were logged in the appropriate boxes, so-to-speak. It was peer-reviewed. Everyone knew the results were people saying what they thought happened through pursuing SOCE. Period. They have every right to report as they want. Dr. Spitzer knew that when he designed his study. Let’s not try to manufacture effects to our own liking.

    Secondly, I’m concerned about the apology to the ‘gay community’. I’m gay. I have a dog-in-the-stake on this, somewhat. I belong to no gay community. I have no need to be apologized to because some homosexuals have developed opposite gender attractions. I say, good for them, if true. It doesn’t hurt me in the least.

    But the injustice of retracting a perfectly decent study on the grounds that somehow, something was overlooked is scientific heresy. Why, pray tell, should I believe anything that Dr. Spitzer has done throughout his career, if he abandons this study: retracts it and apologizes for it. Dr. Spitzer knew the ‘evidence’ was a SOCE client that self-reported whatever. That’s the evidence, plain and simple. Where’s the ‘evidence’ that somehow this has changed?

    If this is simply an attempt by an older, well-intentioned ‘scientist/psychiatrist’ to set the record straight (in his eyes, that is) in my opinion, it’s done nothing but make the psychological community voodoo science.

  • Teresa

    One further thought on this topic:

    Scientists sometimes correct/update prior studies by noting ‘new evidence’ unknown at the time, or a design flaw of the study, itself; or ignoring bad studies, all together. However, this retraction/apology by Dr. Spitzer doesn’t seem to follow this standard practice. It seems to me rather, “Geez, gay community, I hurt your feelings; so, I’m taking back the study”. Lousy science, when we let feelings override facts.

  • Michael Bussee

    If a scientist looks back and realizes that there is “fatal flaw” in his study, I have no problem with him admitting that — and apologizing for any harm his mistake may have caused. In fact, I think it makes him a better scientist.

  • Ann

    Teresa,

    Thank you for the posts – as usual, you make a lot of sense. Dr. Spitzer’s study (perhaps survey would be a better choice) was a series of questions that could only be answered subjectively. He reported only what he heard and did so very carefully without any axioms. Any of us could have done the same thing and if we were fair and unbiased, we would report what we heard, which is what he did. There was no scienctific research done here – no particular credentials needed to ask the questions he did and summarize them into a report. The conclusions he offered were not axiomatic, rather just what he heard and believed to be true from the individuals he received answers from, which might or might not be right, but how can that ever be determined when it is subjective? I am interested in an area of real science – Epigenitics – and think it will someday tell us a lot about our complex nature as human beings. My all time preference for now is to privately accept ourselves with all our potential and limitations and live a valued life as we see it.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Michael, regarding your comment that starts with

    Anyone studying “ex-gays” has to take into account the mindset of many of the participants. The impact of “name-it-and-claim-it” theology on self reports of “change” cannot be under-estimated.

    I have never seen this described quite the way you have written it. I really understand it much better after your description. Thank you very much.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Teresa, I think it would be a good idea to read this comment from Dave Rattigan on ex-gay watch. He quotes the Introduction or summary of the study. After reading this I can see why Spitzer felt the need to apologize

    http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2012/04/spitzer-i-owe-the-gay-community-an-apology/comment-page-1/#comment-41922

  • Teresa

    SG, I’ve read Dave Rattigan’s comments; and, I’m still mystified how this study passed peer review, or was even considered a valid methodology in the first place, if someone now sees a problem. Plain self-reporting is either adequate or not in research for a highly politicized, faith-involved issue such as SOCE.

    This ‘fatal flaw’ (if it really is one) was obvious from day one of the design, I still contend. How could it not be? The issue here is really not the study; it’s the issue of the politics of the study results.

    .

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Let’s break it down:

    Either some gay men and lesbians, following reparative therapy, actually change their predominantly homosexual orientation to a predominantly heterosexual orientation or some gay men and women construct elaborate self-deceptive narratives (or even lie) in which they claim to have changed their sexual orientation, or both.

    This seems to be true. It is a reasonable conclusion, supported by the evidence.

    For many reasons, it is concluded that the participants’ self-reports were, by-and-large, credible and that few elaborated self-deceptive narratives or lied.

    The “many reasons” were handwaving. The evidence wasn’t there to support this conclusion.

    The evidence since that report is that the self-reports were, by-and-large, not credible.

    Hence the deduction below is not supported. It is based on a false premise, and one that should have been regarded as doubtful at time of publication.

    Thus, there is evidence that change in sexual orientation following some form of reparative therapy does occur in some gay men and lesbians.

    I think the evidence is though that this is true; what we don’t have is evidence that reparative therapy either increases or decreases the chances of such change, not that the proportion who do change are anything other than miniscule. Neither can we be sure that such change is real, as opposed to moving from one end of bisexuality to the other.

    I can’t universalise my own experience. My sexual orientation changed from asexual and situationally lesbian to straight. That was after significant hormonal, somatic and neurological change (which was probably directly causal). I acquired a sexual orientation in the conventional sense of the phrase at age 48, rather than 12-14.

    I therefore have evidence that sexual orientation can change, but in my case it took the equivalent of a metabolic H-bomb to do it.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Teresa, I think the controversial statement is this one,

    For many reasons, it is concluded that the participants’ self-reports were, by-and-large, credible and that few elaborated self-deceptive narratives or lied.

    Something happened to Dr. Spitzer between 2001 and 2011 to make him change his mind about that controversial statement. In 2001 he judged the respondents to be credible and in 2011 he doesn’t.

    I am going to posit that although he has not said it, that in subsequent years he probably heard from a LOT of the original participants and they told him that they are homosexual and always were. We have to allow that the people who participated remember participating and remember what they told Spitzer and now have regrets.

    Although Spitzer took a lot of heat from the gay community I bet what made him change his opinion was not that heat, but instead hearing back from the participants years later. He personally interviewed these participants he judged them credible and now he no longer thinks they are.

    I contacted Dr. Spitzer myself 2 years ago and asked him to re-interview the participants. I can’t remember exactly when I contacted him, it was shortly after I started reading Warren’s blog to find the answer to the question if people can change their sexual orientation or not. I don’t know anybody who ever wanted to do that, but the answer to that question has ramifications in law and Civil Rights so I was, and still am researching that. I am only interested for political reasons.

    Dr. Spitzer never responded back to me. But what we don’t know, and what he hasn’t said, is if he did contact some survey participants in later years only to find out that they in fact are now homosexual. What if he called 10 of them and 8 out of 10 said, “Well….it worked for a while and I really thought I was straight when I took part in the survey, but actually I am now gay”

    My guess is that over the years Dr. Spitzer has heard back from survey participants who recanted and/or he himself followed up with a few and then quit. He simply came to the realization that the majority of the participants lied and he wants to now apologize to the gay community.

    I think what happened to Spitzer is what happened to Warren with his “I do Exist” documentary. They both made judgement calls at the time, of credible sexual orientation change, only to find out at a later date that no, the participants did not stay straight.

  • William

    Straight Grandmother, what you say is, of course, speculation. It wouldn’t surprise me, however, if is correct. On 28th May 2006, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Spitzer said that he now believed that some of those he interviewed for his study might have been lying either to him or to themselves. This article, “Ex-Gays Seek a Say in Schools”, is no longer on line – at least I can’t find it any more – but I remember reading it a couple of years ago. He didn’t say what had led him to think this, but he was obviously having serious doubts as long ago as that, and he presumably had some reason for them.

    Since then we have had the discovery that Masters and Johnson’s accounts of successful sexual orientation modification were fabricated, John Smid’s admission that his sexual orientation had never changed and that during his nearly 22 years as director of Love In Action he had never found a homosexual man who became heterosexual through an Exodus ministry, and Alan Chambers’s public estimate of a 99.9% failure rate for those who try to change their orientation (although he later tried to “nuance” this, as he usually does after making surprisingly frank admissions). These developments can only have exacerbated Spitzer’s doubts.

    Teresa, Spitzer has NOT apologized “because some homosexuals have developed opposite gender attractions” – if indeed any have. He has apologized to any homosexuals who have wasted their time (and perhaps money also) on fruitless attempts to develop opposite sex attractions on the strength of his study. Actually, it is more probable, if we are to be realistic, that such people have done so on the strength of WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN TOLD ABOUT his study, which even as it stood, was repeatedly and most deceitfully misrepresented by some in the ex-gay lobby. For example, one evangelical paperback which I came across in my public library cited it as proving that 60% of homosexuals could become heterosexual if they really tried.

  • Ann

    Actually, it is more probable, if we are to be realistic, that such people have done so on the strength of WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN TOLD ABOUT his study, which even as it stood, was repeatedly and most deceitfully misrepresented by some in the ex-gay lobby

    William,

    I am not sure why anyone would view Dr. Spitzer’s report as anything but heresay. He reported only what he heard. The people involved might or might not have been telling the truth about their experience. If only one person was telling the truth, then their experience with therapy worked to some degree. If someone was claiming a truth on a spiritual level, it is still their truth, then that calls into question subjectivity, which is not a sound basis for a universal truth. I believe he did this report because his original stance on orientation was being questioned. After conducting the study/survey, he was sufficiently convinced – only by what he heard – that his original stance might not be true for everyone. Now he is seems to be questioning the efficacy of this newer report as his method of determining the truth can not be proven with a ny degree of certainty. He conducted a survey and reported the findings – that’s all. I’m surprised that the flaw was not seen by those who chose to either believe the findings or dis-believe them based on their own biases. It is amazing how some individuals will bow under pressure to either opine on or recant a theory and it is even more amazing how either one will be viewed based on a bias rather than discernment. I know it happens as I have done it too and have learned that all these surveys and opinions are subjective and not real science. I remember well when this study came out and I questioned it based on common sense, even though I had a bias. Some people were and still are desperate for answers and, at the time, this report provided the answers they were hoping for and I think that is why it was endorsed by so many. I understand that and hope the answers they are desperate for will still be forthcoming. On an earlier comment on this thread I wrote about an area of science called Epigenetics I think it is a promising area of research on human complexities that just might hold a lot more substance than a survey that Dr. Spitzer conducted and is now apologizing for.

  • stephen

    Michael Bussee’s comments here are just about the most devastating critique of current evangelical/charismatic thinking I’ve yet read.

    Spitzer is too little too late. May he retire in peace and have many hobbies.

    For people who ‘don’t believe’ in evolution; don’t accept global warming; reject inoculations and education for their children; believe the Old Testament is history, I doubt that anything Spitzer says now will change their malevolent attack on gay Americans. Fag bashing is too much fun.

  • ken

    so I finally had a chance to look of the original Spitzer study AND his reply to some commentaries about his paper as well (“Reply: Study Results should not be dismissed and justify further research on the efficacy of sexual reorientation therapy”, Archives of Sexual Behavior Vol 32, no. 5. Oct 2003 pp 469-472).

    Now, as I said before, mostly what he was calling for was more research (as indicated in the title of his reply), but it is also clear that he was arguing that the self-reports were sufficient proof of change in orientation, for those few who did claim a significant change. I imagine it is this argument that he wants to retract. And I think it would be helpful if he could give more specifics about what has lead him to question his originally reasoning (ex. did he reinterview any of the original participants, claims by people like Alan Chambers that change in orientation rarely ever occur, more resent research (or lack thereof), etc).


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